Documenting the Coming Singularity

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Augmented Reality's Killer App

Technology Review - 9/23/09 (by Kristina Grifantini)

Researchers plan to offer more than just directions with innovations in software and hardware.

Augmented games: In this game, developed by researchers at Columbia University, a player holds a flat board and sees three-dimensional objects projected onto it through a head-worn display. The player tilts the game board to control a virtual ball. Credit: Ohan Oda and Steve Feiner, Columbia University

Augmented reality (AR), which involves superimposing virtual objects and information on top of the real world, may be coming to a phone near you. As mobile phones become packed with more sensors, better video capabilities, and faster processing power, many experts predict that AR will become increasingly common. But in a panel discussion today at EmTech@MIT in Cambridge, MA, panelists will admit that several obstacles still remain and that the "killer app" for augmented reality has yet to emerge.

Several AR apps have already been released for cell phones with positioning sensors. For example, PresseLite's Metro Paris app and Acrossair's Nearest Tube both provide iPhone users with augmented directions to nearby subway stops. AR apps are also available for phones powered by Google's Android platform. Layar, developed by SPRXmobile, based in the Netherlands, overlays information from Twitter, Flickr, and Wikipedia on real-world locations, while Wikitude, from Austria-based Mobilizy, displays tourist information collected from Wikipedia.

Some researchers believe that AR represents a fundamentally new way to organize and interact with information. "In the future, we see augmented reality as a component of any kind of digital media interaction," says Mobilizy's co-CEO, Alexander Igelsboeck, who will speak at the EmTech@MIT session.

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